Tool and task affordances


Following on from the last post, remedy another thing I have been playing around with in the last few years is using identification of the pedagogical affordances of tools and tasks as a means of selection criteria in the creation of learning activities. The figure lists ten common pedagogical affordances that a teacher might want to promote - the opportunity to provide students with an authentic experience, cialis getting students to critically reflect, buy enabling them to communicate or collaborate with others, etc. Then the idea is that as part of the design process you decide to what extent particular tools or tasks promote these pedagogical affordances and use this as a basis for tool and task selection in the creation of a learning activity. We tried this out as an exercise in some learning design workshops we ran in the OU earlier this year and the feedback was generally positive, i.e that participants found this a useful and novel way of thinking.     

3 Responses to “Tool and task affordances”

  1. Martin Mackain-Bremner Says:

    Hi Gráinne,
    reading your post reminded me of a rather dense document published by the Institute of Education (IoE), titled ‘Pedagogical Templates for e-learning’ - a slightly different context to your post, perhaps, but a very similar purpose. These sort of thinking and decision guidelines or frameworks are useful in large-scale learning implementations, what Jim Petch at Manchester University calls (or used to) the ‘Industrialisation’ of learning, though that phrase might not sit easily with some… guess that the danger is that the whole creative process becomes too rigidly templated and confined in organisational strait-jackets - how do we prevent this from happening?

  2. Gráinne Says:

    Hi yes I totally agree - the trick is to use these things in a creative way - not as a rigid, predefined thing. The difficult balance is that ‘models’ like this can help simply, foreground certain things but there in lies the problem - they can potentially give the impression that that’s all there is to it, that following a simple recipe is all that’s needed to create good learning activities - whereas we know that that’s far from true. I don’t have the solution but have a hunch that what’s needed is to use these kind of scaffolds with a caveat or in a mediated situation such as a workshop or via someone with a mediation role. Hence there is no simple, magic answer to all this!!!

  3. Angie Says:

    Thank you for this post! I am trying to understand the concept of affordances and more I read, more I get perplex. It seems to me this concept is used after Gibson in very different contexts than the original and the definition is appropriated every time. I would greatly appreciate if you could explain what meaning you give to pedagogical affordances! What I don’t understand from this figure is where is the learner and what are the places of learning design and learning outcome. Thank you!

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